Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best of the Year, 2014

Time again for the yearly roundup of favourites... I always wait until the very last minute in case something spectacular pops up at Christmas... you just never know! All of the "best of" lists starting in September really make me feel sad for any books published at the end of the year :)

I also like to create a statistical summary of my year, just because I like seeing the numbers and think about what and how I'm reading. 

So here is how 2014 shook out.

Total Reading: 157


Female: 126
Male: 30
Nongendered (multiple authors): 1

Genre etc.

Fiction: 128
Non Fiction: 24
Poetry: 3 
Plays: 2  

In translation: 

French (Quebecois): 3
French: 1
Norwegian: 1
Italian: 1
Dutch: 1

My Own Books: 57
Library Books: 72

Review Copies:  15

Rereads: 1
E-reads: 12

Author who I read the most from: Alexander McCall Smith, with, I believe, 4 titles. All pretty recent too...the man's a writing machine.

So. Much like every other year, I read more women than men (though this year the balance was heavily weighted to the female side, perhaps because of my Century of Books project, in which I'm focusing on women). I read a lot more fiction than non-fiction, actually more of a divide than other years even though fiction is usually my top choice. I read fewer works in translation -- want to address that in the new year. And my own books vs. library books is a pretty close number -- especially if you count in the ebooks of which only 1 was a library ebook.

It was a pretty good reading year, with some wonderful finds, though I did stumble across a few real stinkers as well. Here's to a little more variety in my reading year ahead.


Best of the Year

These were some of my favourite reads this year, for their wonderful characters, or their enchanting style, or even for their unique take on the world. These are books that spoke to me in some way.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

This post-apocalyptic novel was a surprise; hopeful and beautiful, it has been the book I've recommended most since I read it. 

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Great characters, great setting, enthralling though laconic storytelling. I highly recommend this modern Western.

Little Bastards in Springtime by Katja Rudolph

A disturbing yet ultimately life-affirming story of a boy who survives the siege of Sarajevo then emigrates to Toronto... while not perfect, this was a powerful debut novel that really struck me.

An old classic that I'd put off reading thinking it would be too sentimental. Not at all! It is certainly English and of its period, but it has humour and hope in it too.

This shocking novella is still as powerful as the year it was published. Unbearable tension, unflinching conclusion -- this is a must read. 

Plum Bun by Jesse Redmon Fauset

Angela changes her life by deciding to "pass" as white in 1920's New York. Lots happens because of it. This was a fascinating read that was full of social commentary, but also really good characters.

Non-fiction: I read a few excellent non-fiction books this year, too, but haven't yet reviewed my top 2 picks, found below.

This is a fantastic memoir of Pick's search for her Jewish roots and what went on in her life while she was pursuing the truth of her past. Amazing writing, powerful insights; I couldn't put this one down.

A brief book, a meditation on how our brain works as we read. Full of short bits of text and accompanying illustration. One to read in small bites. Fabulous ideas from an intimidatingly clever writer/designer.


  1. Wow! 157! Impressive! Station Eleven didn't make my favorites list but it got honorable mention :)

    1. I loved Station Eleven so very much. Unreasonably so, perhaps ;)

  2. Melwyk, you had an incredible year of reading! Many of your favorite books from the past year sound wonderful to me as well. I'm kind of surprised that I haven't read any of your choices (yet).

    1. It was an incredible year. Lots of fabulous, thought-provoking, charming, entertaining, fun reads this year!

  3. I always wait to post a favorites list until the last minute too because you never know if your favorite read is still waiting for you! Looks like you had a fabulous reading year! Happy New Year!

    1. I know, right? You might just read the BEST book ever right after Christmas... Happy New Year to you too!

  4. I also wait til almost the last minute, because you never know. I'm really impressed with your stats, and your list. It reminds me that I've been meaning to read Mrs Miniver for years, and I am most intrigued by Plum Bun - I can't remember if I've looked for that one already. Happy New Year! I look forward to reading about your reading in 2015.

    1. I'd owned Mrs Miniver for ages and ages -- and am glad I finally read it. Plum Bun is definitely worth searching out as well. I was pleased that I read so many good older books as well as current releases.

  5. I've only read Mrs Miniver from your list (& totally agree) - you've had a great reading year. All the best for an equally successful 2015 - Happy New Year!

    1. It was a pretty good year! Hope you find some gems yourself in this new reading year.

  6. Great list. I always have a hard time picking favourites as I like them for so many different reasons.
    I read Little Bastards in Springtime on your recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    I got What We See When We Read for Christmas from parents, so I'll have to see what I think of that one.

    1. It is really hard to pick a favourite, I agree -- so many reason why we love a particular read.

      So glad that you liked Little Bastards in Sprintime; it is a unique read. Can't wait to hear what you think of the Mendelsund!

  7. What We See When We Read seems right up my alley and I'm surprised it's the first time I've heard of it. Thanks for flagging!

    1. Oh, you've got to seek it out. Such a fascinating read!


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